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[R&F] [Story] Immortals

Discussion in 'Civ6 - Stories & Let's Plays' started by BlueFlamingWings, Feb 13, 2018.

  1. BlueFlamingWings

    BlueFlamingWings Chieftain

    Aug 10, 2014

    Blue Flaming Wings here (BFW or Wings). I’ve been a longtime lurker to Civfanatics but have only made a handful of posts, but since I’m a fan of Civ and creative writing as a whole I figured that eventually I’d do a Story. And since Civ Vi Rise and Fall just came out and I had a good start I wanted to finally give it a whirl.

    I’m playing as Cyrus on Immortal difficulty (see what I did there?). It’s on a Large Continents map. With that said, I normally play on King so any advice you all can give would be very appreciated. My first major decision is coming up. I planned for this OP to go over the first 30 turns, but things as they often do in these games, changed and I had to adapt. I normally go 30, 50, 75, then 100, then 130, 150, and so on. Though this may change for the Story and the Eras.

    And if you like my writing check out my Tower of God fanfic on Spacebattles called “In the Dark”. I’ll provide a link.

    I hope you all enjoy!


    They were immortals.

    Or mad.


    Elder Ishtu spoke the words softly. So much so that the other People around the campfire had to lean in to hear him. “There is power in their veins – in their blood.” He continued to whisper – his words fading into the air like the smoke from the fire coiled up into the chill. “Where all Others remained passive they take fate into their own hands. Their blood demands it.”

    While the People around the fire deliberately avoided looking at the Spirit-Touched at any length the Elder stared at their retreating backs. While wielding little else but the clothes on their backs and clubs with stone heads attached to them they ventured back into the forest. Braving its depths as the spirits from the mountains and trees called to them - whispered sweet words to lull them back to the caves where the People sprang forth from.

    Elder Ishtu could sense the spirits of the mountains linger on them. Hover over them.

    Or rather he Saw it.

    The Elder fingered the White Eyes strung on his neck – rolled them over his knuckles. His eyes rolled up to the back of his head – his Whites showed. He Heard, he Saw, he Sensed. He could feel them through the trees. His clothes of many hues, dyed deeply compared to the wool of all the Others, stretched and fluttered as the Elder stood up. The white rocks around his neck glinted in the firelight.

    As the Elder stood and began to speak, his tongue twisting in his mouth, the Others around the fire scooted away from him.

    Despite what he said of the Spirit-Touched, as the oldest amongst them, intricately linked to the spirits. He, too, was Touched.

    His tongues, his chants, settled into coherence.

    He Spoke.

    He Spoke of heat.

    A great and terrible heat. A heat that scorched the land white and bleached the mountains. A heat that caused waves of air to rise from their depths and played tricks on the Spirit-Touched eyes – made them See things that weren’t really there. To fool. To distract. To hide the one spot where flowing water bubbled forth.

    But this wasn’t just a land of severe heat, the Elder told them, as they drew closer to him. The fire flickering and casting shadows along the People’s backs. Oh no. There were spirits of this place too – this bīābān, this desert. They caused the white rocks to form.

    But that land did not belong to the spirits alone.

    Others lived in that land. Others besides the People.

    They had come out of nowhere – just melted off the land. But make no mistake, the Elder warned them, they were not connected to the spirits. He did not know who struck first – them or the Spirit-Touched. The two sides clashed, bodies heaving into the fray. The Spirit-Touched bellowing war-cries while the Others cawed out gibberish. Sounds that just sounded like “bar, bar” to their ears.

    And, just like that, as quickly as they came the Others left.

    And so, with nothing else to do the men traveled north.

    As the desert ended into long fields of tall, yellow grasses. The breeze ruffled through them and their stalks crunched and bent at the group’s passage. Normally such would interest them, but as the Spirit-Touched reached the ends of the fields they froze. Their movements arrested there and then.

    The expanse of blue just stretched out to the horizon – as far as the eye could see. It moved, pushing in and pulling out, lapping at where the land kissed against the water. For it was water, they just knew it. They had seen how sitting water looks in streams and the Great River.

    And, more than all of that it smelled. It smelled more distinctly and crisply than anything they had ever smelt before. They could taste the fresh tinge on their lips. See the wind ruffle through the field they were in. The group approached the water, their footsteps sinking into the sand.

    One of them broke off and walked to the shoreline. He took a knee and cupped a hand into the water and then brought it to his lips.

    Then spat it out again.

    “Undrinkable,” he said.

    “Over here.” Came an answer.

    They looked over to the right. A young figure stood on top the nearby hill overlooking the everlasting waters and the mountains far to east – just barely visible to their naked eyes. The youngest amongst their ranks had split off from the group of Spirit-Touched. He looked back over the vista and nodded as they joined him on the hilltop. “Here,” he said.

    “We’ll claim these lands.”

    The boy is called Cyrus.


    The voice came in suddenly, but surely. With enough confidence and self-assurance that Elder Ishtu fell silent. A man, who had been sitting across from the Elder, stood up. Darayava was a giant of a man. Tall enough to reach the heavens it seemed. By his side he wields a leather sling, it was propped against his hip as he bellowed to them. “No,” he repeated again, “I protest, venerable elder, you should not make your own grandson into the hero of the story.”

    “I make nothing up. I Saw it.”

    It seemed Darayava was going to contest that point, but he felt the tension in the air between two opposing sides. Those who supported him and those who supported the Elder glared at each other as Ishtu merely sighed, sat back down, and reclined by the fire. And yet more were poking their heads out of the tents that dotted their new home.

    He backtracked instantly.

    “Of course none doubt you, venerated one, I merely was saying the glory isn’t solely Cyrus’ to gain.”

    “Far be it for me to stop you, when the spirits touch and call you mere men are powerless to resist.”

    If the man felt he was suddenly trapped, unable to refuse, he did not show it. Instead, he puffed out his chest and glanced over the crowd of People. He beamed at them. “Alright! I shall venture south across the great plains. Who else here is with me?”

    His own men, his squad of hunters, did not even need to speak. They were already up and by his side before Darayava spoke his first word. Four in total. But they were not the only ones to be so Touched. Yet another hunter moved to stand up but the Elder placed a gnarled hand on the young woman’s shoulder and she halted.

    The Elder watched as they left the camp. He gave a weary smile. “They are hotblooded indeed. Just going off on their lonesome like that.” The Elder eyes the young woman, “Is your blood boiling like that, Ariya? Wish you had gone with the Spirit-Touched?”

    She flushed at that. She absentmindedly ran her hand through the fur of her canine companion by her side. As she was wont to do. “Am I so easily read? Besides, my brother can handle himself – always has.”

    “As I said before, far be it for me to stop one who has been called by the spirits.”

    She blinked. “In that case, why did you not let me go with them?”

    He met her confusion with a grin. “In the same way, I couldn’t just let my granddaughter undertake a long and dangerous journey without a blessing.” She did not get much more warning than that before Ishtu lay both hands on the crown of her head. “Go,” he intoned, “Go to the Sacred Woods at the base of the twin peaks. There you will wait. There you will Listen. The spirits will let you know,” He opened his eyes and his hands traveled from her forehead to the sides of her face. “They will keep you safe.”

    She smiled back. She leaned up and kissed his forehead.

    “That I shall.”

    And so she went.

    And so it was that three parties left from their new home that day.

    Ariya Heard it.

    She couldn’t really put it in words – not fully. In the twilight hours of dusk, she sat cross-legged on the forest floor of the Sacred Woods. She couldn’t see much in this dark, but she could feel, hear, smell and taste. She felt the ground beneath – littered with foliage and fallen leaves. She could hear the tinkling sound of flowing water – the rushing of a waterfall. The forest had this crisp, clean smell – the smell of new life. Even the world had that smell – that of fresh, wetly packed earth. She could taste the dew. The wetness that coated her tongue when Aniya stuck it out. The wetness came with the encroaching night like the lack of heat did.


    Just like that it came to her. A voice she Heard echoing in her head. A dawning realization.

    Beyond it told her.

    Go Beyond the Desert she took it to mean.

    Ariya stood up from the ground, dusting herself off, and her nameless companion trailed after her.

    Nameless because they knew their world well.

    Ariya had a ardurous journey ahead of her. She knew this. But could not find herself too concerned with finding food and water – Ariya knew how to forage, to survive off the land. As she walked she hugged the coastline of the vast body of water and was able to fish freely – while it was not enough to sustain many People it was more than enough for her. The waters, the darya; the sea as she called it, were bursting with life. Besides, she left the People full of provisions and water skins. It was enough.

    No. It would not be the food but the exhaustion that killed her.

    She walked. She walked until her legs tired out and then walked some more. But it felt like the distance never shrunk. This was too much for one person to traverse on their own, surely. If only there was some major stop, a trading post or a settlement or something…

    It was as she left the coastline, and crossed through a field of wild, milling cattle, that Ariya’s complaints on the distance vanished.

    And her world was shattered.

    Under the shadow of the largest mountain she had ever seen, that looked had once had been even larger as some giant had torn off its peak, she met him. A new, Other man. For a moment she almost feared he would be hostile to her like those other ones, those barbarians but Ariya could tell from his body language that this was not the case. She relaxed.

    She eyed the newcomer as the stranger cautiously approached. He was unlike any she had ever met before. Yet at the same time they were like mirror copies of each other. The same woolen clothing, the same haggard look from days out in the wilderness, they even had a similar beast by their sides. Indeed, the two could have been siblings - just like Cyrus.

    And then it was proven to her how wrong she was.

    The Other man did not speak her language.

    That was shown to her the moment he opened his mouth, and yet there was purpose to his words. Meaning. Though she did not understand he was trying to speak to her and that, alone, was enough.

    It did not take him long to offer her hospitality among his campsite.

    Unlike her the man was not alone. He had several companions that stilled and openly stared as the young woman walked amongst them. It seems these Others, like her People, had thought themselves alone in an empty world filled with spirits and men driven mad by them.

    But they were not. The People were not.

    For a moment, as she broke bread and stared down to the settlement in the distance Ariya let herself imagine a world where the two Peoples coexisted in peace, if tension.

    It was not to be.

    In the years after, despite whatever reputation that the People known as the Persians gained, they would always argue that first surprise attack was not their fault.

    Ariya had very little say in the matter as these strangers started packing up their camp. At first, she intended to go on her way to the south or perhaps visit the settlement in the distance properly (when she pointed to it the Others named it Pokrovka), but Arika did not get very far before the leader of the band laid a hand on her shoulder and froze her in place.

    That’s how she found herself traveling with these Pokrovkans miles southward, pass a windy river, on top a hill and overlooking a forest below.

    If them forcing her to join them wasn’t a clear enough sign that something was wrong. Then the way they paused at the river’s edge to point out across the way, muttering to themselves, would have clued her in.

    At first Ariya thought they were gesturing to these strange, giant beasts that that stood fenced in on a hillock, but rather they were gesturing to these odd People that were hammering in stakes of wood around them.

    But then the leader barked something, and they went on their way.

    Odd indeed.

    But they continued south, to the end of the river and up a slightly sloping incline.

    And now, as they looked down, Ariya found herself stunned once more.

    There were more laborers in the forest beneath her. But it was not just the sight of the odd yellow-brown heads attached to their clubs that they swung at the trees (in itself both a feat of wonder and sacrilege) that surprised her, but it was the fact so many of these People lived in a second settlement. How many of them are there?

    She only finally knew, for sure, what these men intended when they went down the slope and into the trees. After a beat, she followed them.

    Upon reaching the base, she was relieved to find not a bloody massacre but a huddled mass of frightened laborers. Well, that was a lie. There was a sign of blood in those woods on that day. She saw that man, the leader, standing off to the side with his hound by his side. A hound that now had blood dripping from it’s jaws and was standing over a man who screamed in pain and cradled a arm to his chest.

    The hound looked her in the eye. By her side, her nameless companion’s hackles rose.

    Then Ariya knew.

    This was no dog.

    This was a wolf.

    She wanted to escape into the east, to go back home, but they went north instead.

    Deeper into the woods they went.

    If there was one thing she learned, it was that the leader, Ateas as she heard through hushed whispers, knew the forests.

    He navigated them fearlessly into the depths. With a preternatural skill he knew where to step, where to go, to escape the men that were even now chasing them. And he was silent. Even his wolf companion followed suit. Ariya almost wanted to say that such a thing alone would mean the man was Touched by the spirits of the forests. But she could not. The young girl still remembered the way his wolf growled, the way human blood dripped from its jaws to desecrate the forest floor.

    She just couldn’t.

    She wouldn’t have to witness Ateas’ blessings from the spirits of the forest for much longer. The party broke out of the treeline and into an open grassland of cattle and stone. Like the white rocks she was used to but darker. Ariya wondered if it, too, held spirits.

    Over the coming days they moved. They moved into a forest that hugged a coastline of a sea (was it their sea?). Ariya noted that the forest was colder than any she had ever experienced before. She sat on a fallen log that that tumbled down from a fire (she could see the scorched marks) and looked all around her at the trees.

    Where now?


    Ariya must have said it out loud for Ateas answered her. The man had come out of nowhere - quiet as death in the forests he knew so well. The man had latched onto the word over the past few days in the (false) belief that it was the sole word of her language he recognized. The rest he made up for in studying her body language. He was intuitive like that.

    Ariya sighed but took it as it was meant.

    “And go where?”

    And once more he couldn’t possibly understand her but Ateas seemed to grasp her question regardless. He pointed. He pointed out of the forest. He pointed to a land covered in white. A land that was constantly blowing in cold air that Ariya could feel from there.


    A/N: I’m finally, finally, done. In the future, I’m probably do manageable chunks of 10 turns.

    So, a couple of notes on names before I get the discussion rolling.

    1. Ishtu is short for “Ishtuvega”, which is another name for Astyages in Babylonian. He is Cyrus II grandfather on his mother’s side. He’s mentioned in the Civilopedia.

    2. Bīābān is the farsi word for desert. Similarly, darja for sea.

    3. Darayava is another name for Darius.

    4. Aniya is short for Ariyāramna. The brother of Cyrus I. I flipped his gender.

    5. Ateas is the name of a Scythian king.

    So, discussion time, I mainly want some advice on where to settle my second city and what pantheon to pick. I’m torn between Stone Circles and Desert Folklore. The first gives immediate bonuses due to the Gypsium, but the second provides more long-term benefits.

    The second issue is my second city. I can either go south to nab those Cocoas or forward settle by Mt. Kilimanjaro. I think that may net me 4 Era score points. 2 for forward settling and 2 for settling near a Natural Wonder. I could also put a city up north next to the Pearls. There’s a really good Industrial District spot up there. I would be able to build a Galley for Era score too. Though I wouldn’t get the Sailing Eureka as my Slinger got that from popping a village.

    …oh, did you forget about him? More on Darayava and Cyrus later.

    Anyways, to get what I’m talking about, here’s a screenshot:

    Lastly, if you’ve read this far and like my work (and are a fan of the Tower of God manhwa) check out In the Dark, my fanfic on Spacebattles.

    P.S. I normally use the Firefox image rehoster. So if the screenshots are broken for you please comment!
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
    Syzygy17 and Aussie_Lurker like this.
  2. Ozbenno

    Ozbenno Fly Fly Away Moderator Hall of Fame Staff

    Apr 5, 2006
    Sydney, Australia
    Love the story but can't see the pictures.
    BlueFlamingWings likes this.
  3. BlueFlamingWings

    BlueFlamingWings Chieftain

    Aug 10, 2014
    I was afraid of that. Wasn't able to rehost the images. I'll fiddle with it a bit more.

    Edit: Pretty sure that did it. Now that you can see the final screenshot where do you think I should settle?
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
  4. Ozbenno

    Ozbenno Fly Fly Away Moderator Hall of Fame Staff

    Apr 5, 2006
    Sydney, Australia
    Can see them now :goodjob:

    Settling near My K might bring out the best stories!
  5. BlueFlamingWings

    BlueFlamingWings Chieftain

    Aug 10, 2014
    lol, that is also a consideration.
  6. BlueFlamingWings

    BlueFlamingWings Chieftain

    Aug 10, 2014

    The name was softly spoken. A call for attention more than anything else. A simple “I am here”. The young, black-haired man turned his head to face the newcomer. Haxāmaniš. Like Darayava the newcomer was a giant of a man; but where the Slinger, the leader of the hunters, had a boisterous charisma, quick to either make friends or foes, Haxāmanis was instead a silent, stoic mountain.


    The man approached Cyrus’ side, but said nothing.

    Case in point…

    Though the giant remained silent, Cyrus was not dissuaded. The man would speak eventually. Cyrus actually had much respect for his right-hand man – believing his silence to be an indicator of heavy and deep thoughts. That Haxāmanis had a great mind nestled in his skull. Only the spirits could know for sure, no mortal man could know the thoughts of another, but Cyrus felt confident in his analysis all the same.

    “Come.” The other man said, pointing out across one the hills that hugged the coast.

    So he did.

    They had set up camp in a forest with giant trees surrounding them and casting long shadows on the campsite. The fire flickered out dancing lights. Though dawn had crept up on them slowly through the night Cyrus could still smell the fresh morning dew. He felt the rough bark against his fingertips as he followed Haxāmanis out past the last of the trees.

    They found themselves in open plains. Cyrus remembered it from his exploration earlier. A river snaked off into the distance and ended right before a hill. Cyrus’ friend didn’t have to speak or gesture – he just started to walk to the river banks. The leader of the Spirit-Touched followed his lead and the duo reached the hilltop.

    Cyrus froze then lowered to his stomach on the ground.

    He looked at the sight before him hard – analyzing it.

    It demanded nothing less.

    Cyrus watched as down below Others made a camp within the Swamp. For a moment, he almost thought their home, their Pasargadae had sent out another delegation. But no, he recognized none of these People. He knew every face of his People by heart.

    “Who are they ?”

    Above you, Haxāmanis just shrugged before leaning back against a rocky outcropping – arms crossed and just waiting.

    Cyrus got up to his feet. “We will need to go down there. See what they want and possibly chase them off our lands.”

    “Wait.” The giant said, even outstretching a hand to bar him from going forward.

    Haxāmanis never did this. Never overrode him like this, so Cyrus knew he missed something. He scanned over the entourage and he knew. The black-haired man smirked and spoke, “They are moving.”

    It was true. He could see them pack up tents and their other gear. “But to where?” He asked. Scanning the horizon, until finally settling on the southwest.

    Where their home lay.

    “We leave right now,” it was no more than a hunch, but Cyrus felt relieved when his friend turned his back to the foreigners and started heading to the riverbank. Cyrus trailed after him, staring into the forest that housed their campsite within. “We will head out of the forest and into that field of wheat.” It was actually Haxā who had named the long grasses, back when they were on the shore’s edge. Ghamh he called them. “Then into the forest just on the outskirts of Pasargadae.”

    The other man just nodded in response.

    The actual trip did not take long once the camp was packed up. The Spirit-Touched moved like silent specters – just creeping through the wheat-covered shrublands nestled beneath a towering mountain range and into the woods.

    As they sneaked up to the front treeline, gazing up to the horizon, Cyrus knew his hunch had been right.

    They, these strangers, these Others were looking down on Pasargadae. Cyrus’ hunch led them there and his hunch again spoke to him. Attack. It said. Attack.

    He smirked.

    Okay, so that one? That sneak attack is a justified reason to hold a grudge against the People. But, in our defense, Cyrus was a loose canon even at the best of times, and all to follow after him would take up that mantle too. An immortal, eternal opportunism.

    Ariya on the other hand…

    The young girl curled up on herself, wrapping her arms around her waist, as the newfound group delved deeper and deeper into the tundra. To add to the chill, they continued to hug the coast as they traveled north, and the seaside breeze blew in coldness.

    Off in the distance Ariya spotted a forest and just knew the chill would lessen slightly when she entered into it.

    She ran.

    Ariya hopped over bushes. She weaved between frosted-over hillocks. Her limbs felt frozen, weighed down, but she had to get to it – be shielded by the massive trees. She just had to. She slowed in her constant motion after she felt the presence of the group behind her dwindle into nothingness. She was out of sight. By then, Ariya had slowed down to a walk, nearly in a daze, then thumped her head against a trunk of a single grizzled tree that grew out of the snow. It felt rough against her forehead – scrapping against the skin.

    Ariya scowled. “What the hell?”

    She didn’t want this. She hadn’t asked for it. She had just wanted to go Beyond the desert – to see what was on the other side to relay it to her People. But now, now, she was trapped in these frozen wastes with strange people she had never seen before. Worst yet, when she first met up with Ateas and his scouting party, the man had sent word back so their leader could meet her, but Ariya had left with the others before she could meet up with the mysterious woman. That snub will not be forgotten or forgiven.

    Ariya would be blamed for this. She just knew it.

    What now?

    A sight distracted Ariya from her thoughts. She only saw it out of the corner of her vision. An orange flash. She turned and found it. A burrow in the snow – covered in white. Ariya could only make out a small creature’s eyes before it darted back into the darkness.

    “What – ”


    Ariya was not surprised to find Ateas walk up to her…at least, not as surprised as she should have been. “What?” She repeated again, though to ask about another matter this time. Though he did not understand the words, he apparently understood the intent.

    “Krou,” he said gesturing to the layer of white that lay layered on the ground all about them. “Ka.” He ended by pointing to the burrow and the animal within.

    Ariya caught it then. “Krouka” was the name of the creature.


    The fight did not last long.

    Cyrus didn’t really know what he expected. Whoever these strangers were they were no warriors. Dead bodies littered the ground and blood caked the hillside. He glanced over to where Haxāmaniš sat on a stump, silently cleaning his club. The giant had done most of the killing, beating foes to death, and, once again he’ll have his old friend do the dirty work. Their eyes met, and Cyrus gave a single nod.

    He stood up. Haxāmaniš stood up and slowly strolled past it all, wadding into pools of blood and leaving trails of bloody footprints behind. He exited the end of the battlefield and casually strolled up to a bound and gagged man. One who was flanked by Cyrus’ Spirit-Touched on either side. The man in question trailed behind.

    The giant crouched down, bringing himself to eye level, and stared at the captive.

    He looked like he was carved from stone.

    It came over slowly – a mounting pressure. The other man began shaking his head wildly – screaming into the cloth.

    He ripped it out.

    “No!” The man said in heavily accented farsi. “Stop!”

    “So, they were right – you really can speak.” It was the first time Haxāmaniš spoke up. His voice was deep and gravely. Enough so to make the man’s face drained of color. He went on, “Who are you people? How do know our language?”

    He snapped his mouth shut – gagging himself without gagging himself.

    But Haxāmaniš just backhanded him, “Speak.”

    He did. Albeit slowly – like forcing the words out. “Not the same.” He squeezed out. “I am from somewhere else.”

    “What the fudge does that mean?”

    “Another village. Between here and there. They found me.”
    “And where is there?”

    The man’s mouth snapped shut again.

    Haxāmaniš stood up straight and lifted his weapon. Smacking it into his palm.


    His lips thinned.

    Haxāmaniš moved. The club slammed into the man’s face. He tilted over with the motion – smacking into the ground.

    “Speak. Who were those people? What did they intend?”

    As blood leaked out of his nose and into the dirt, the man looked up. Looked up to the giant that towered over him. He scooted back, and then latched onto the one thing he could answer.

    “They just wanted to scout. To know. Honest!” In his panic, the stranger voice shifted. Became more fluid. Cyrus frowned behind the man’s back. Had he been hiding how well he spoke our tongue? Is he working with someone with in Pasargadae? Then he smirked. Interesting.

    Haxāmaniš let up. Stepping away from the prone man as he hummed. “They just wanted to scout, huh?” Then he moved. It was a blur even to Cyrus’ eyes. One moment the man just stood there and the next his club, the huge chunk of wood, just crashed onto one of the man’s hands.

    Several of the Spirit-Touched nearby winced and looked away as the man howled – a blood-curling scream lifted up to the afternoon sky.

    “They just wanted to scout our lands!” Haxāmaniš dropped the club, then grab the man by his neck and lifted him up. He could do so with one hand. “Why?”

    The interrogation go no further on account of the screaming.

    “Why?” Haxāmaniš repeated.

    “Haxā,” Cyrus finally spoke, his voice cutting through the din. “That’s enough.”

    Haxāmaniš dropped the man. He flopped to the ground. His screams had shifted into sobs. As they walked past each other, Cyrus could see the scowl on Haxāmaniš’ face abruptly change into his usual pensive look. The man’s gaze lingered on the battlefield for a moment before he continued to walk away.

    I will need to do something about that, later.

    Cyrus approached the man who was still rolling bout in the dirt.

    He caught the eye of one of his Spirit-Touched, Farhad, and said, “Fetch me the ointment.”

    The other man nodded, and Cyrus crouched down to the prone figure. He did not do so to intimidate like Haxāmaniš did, but rather Cyrus plastered on a smile and rubbed at the man’s back. His sobs died down, and through teary eyes he glanced up at Cyrus and the young black-haired man smiled down at him in response.

    “How are you feeling? Better?”

    The man scooted away from him.

    “That’s to be expected, huh?”

    At that moment, Farhad came back with a wooden bowl filled with a milky liquid. He set it down gently and Cyrus pushed it the rest of the way to the stranger, “Try this,” he said, “Dip your hand into it and it’ll numb the pain.”

    “…numb?” He had to squeeze the word out.

    “Diminish. Dilute. Like water in sheep’s milk.”

    Cyrus could immediately tell that the man didn’t believe him. But a twitch on the back of his crushed hand decided it for him. He darted for the bowl – shoving both his bound hands into the mixture. The surprise on his face spoke for itself. He didn’t even react when Cyrus took out a stone knife, sliced through the rope and pulled out his uninjured hand.

    “How?” he asked, flexing out a couple fingers. Not the whole hand, of course, but motion all the same. He kept staring. His eyes shone with wonder.

    Cyrus’ smile shifted into a smirk.

    It faded back into the fond smile when the man looked up.

    “What’s your name, friend? Do you mind if I call you that?”

    He waved the question away with his good hand, still looking at the mixture.

    “Behram.” He could now fully flex his hand. “What is this? Where did it come from?”

    “I found it.”

    That caught Behrem’s attention.

    “Actually, I really only found the ingredients – it was my grandfather, the Elder of our People, who made it. The spirits of the stars spoke to our Elder when he was meditating in the Sacred Woods. They told him of plants that, when ground together, would make this miraculous mixture. ‘Follow the stars and they will lit your way,’ he told me.”

    Hammad was staring at the ointment, eyes wide, Cyrus just barely heard him whisper.

    “You people Talk to the Spirits.”

    Cyrus’ grin widened.

    They left the Kroukas behind in the evening, as the sun started to set, and Ariya honestly didn’t know why.

    Until she did.

    From this distance she could see them. In her heavy clothes – the jacket lined with familiar looking orange hair (personally given to her by the Pokrovkans) she could see them. The same barbarians hung in the far reaches of this desolate land, the laborers among the party murmured at the sight of them. Through the language barrier Ariya got the sense that they were worried. Though why she did not know...

    She did not want to find out.

    Ariya fell back into the treeline, out of sight from any potential lookout. Ateas was already rounding up the rest of his party, and also herding the laborers. He spoke in a rapid-fire tone, enough to make her understand that he was not a quite man usually, and gestured into the distance.

    She followed his motions and realized he meant to lead them deeper into the forest.

    Of course.

    “I thought you were going to kill him.”

    Cyrus didn’t have to turn around and look at Haxāmaniš was frowning at his back. Or that the man looked as Hammad, whole and well, was carted off by a retinue of Spirit-Touched. “Why did you think that?”

    “You called him friend.”

    Cyrus snorted a laugh.

    He turned around to face Haxā, a smirksmile in place. “You figured I’d kill him just from that?”


    The smirksmile turned into a full-on grin as Cyrus bellowed out. “I guess you know me too well, old friend.” With that Cyrus turned to the direction where his man had vanished with their new prisoner. “The reverence he showed for our spirits was an indicator he could be won over. Besides, he may know of useful skills – his knowledge of both our and their language is a boon at least.”

    The giant grunted.

    Cyrus looked down on his home, at the base of the hill, where already he could see waves of the People, emerging from their tents and standing before him. Listening ears one and all.

    And he would speak.

    A/N: Okay. Wow. Over 2,500 words. Nearly twelve pages of content, double spaced.

    Three turns.

    I think I bit off more than I can chew here.

    I think I’ll have to narrow it down again. Instead of ten turns a update I’ll stick to a system of three turns, up to five turns, then ten turns.

    So, for example, I’m right now on turn 23, the next update will be 25 and the one after that will go to turn 30 (unless a appropriate stopping point happens before it).

    Once again, I made use of the Meaningful Names trope. I’ll list them bellow:

    I got most of these from Behind the Name.

    1. Haxāmanis: Derived from Old Persian haxā "friend" combined with Old Persian manah "mind, thinking power".

    2. Krouka: Of Sycthian origin. Krou meaning “Snow” and krouka meaning “Snow Rockies” (not sure what “Rockies” are. But here they’re the Scythian name for these foxes since they are near a giant “rock”).

    From here.

    3. Farhad: Means "elation" or "happiness" in ancient Persian. This name was borne by the first blacksmith in Persia, as well as by a hero in the romantic Persian story "Shireen Farhad".

    4. Behram: Turkish form of the word Bahrem. Modern Persian form of Avestan Verethragna meaning "victory over resistance". This was the name of a Zoroastrian god (one of the Amesha Spenta) associated with victory and war. This name was borne by several Sassanid emperors. It is also the Persian name for the planet Mars.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2018
  7. BlueFlamingWings

    BlueFlamingWings Chieftain

    Aug 10, 2014
    No one truly knows if Cyrus the Great spoke these words.

    We do know that he spoke. Cyrus the First of his name came down from the hilltop and into a waiting crowd of People. Pasargadae had changed in the days (months?) he had been gone. It had transformed from a collection of haphazardly placed tents into actual structures of wood and stone.

    Pasargadae had turned into a home.

    Familiar faces waited for Cyrus and the Spirit-Touched as they descended the hill. They had heard the commotion – the screams, the thud of wood against flesh, the begs of mercy. They had smelled the stench of open bowels, the tinge of blood, the tension in the air so thick it could be nearly tasted. The Spirit-Touched tossed Behrem forward as Cyrus took slow, careful strides forward.

    He gazed on the masses – turning his head this way and that.

    He grinned.

    “Friends,” he began. Cyrus’ words were like honey – sweet-sounding and flowing from one to the next. “Today is a glorious day!” Haxāmanis smirked as he crossed his arms and leaned back – his usual pose when impressed with Cyrus. If he went “Do not be alarmed” the People could very well become alarmed because of his warning. Now…

    “These one have come from lands beyond the holy desert, a place where darkness dwells, for as my sister was exploring they attacked. Unprovoked and unexpected they attacked.” Well, unprovoked save for sporadic reports of Ariya somehow using black magic to corrupt minds and kidnap some of these Others. Cyrus figured he could make use of that ill reputation of hers later.

    “My sister, Ariya, the one who helped our very own Farhad,” Cyrus laid a hand on the man’s shoulder as his Spirt-Touched warrior approached, “when he twisted his ankle un the Sacred Woods and helped you, Zendān,” Cyrus gestured to a young girl that was sitting at the edge of the group (one of the few that was). They looked eyes – her vibrant blue gaze peering into him. Cyrus turned his head aside and fell silent for a beat. Haxāmanis hadn’t ever seen his composure break like that before. “By hunting when you had no food left during the winter and were at risk of starving. You all know her, you all grew up with her, you all have memories of her. Truly there’s no need to say this.

    She’s one of us – one of the People.

    But these Scythians hunted her down – pushed her to a place they call “the Northern Wastes. They searched far to the west, what to them was beyond the desert, to find us. To know where our lands were to prepare for a future raid. No. I say no to that. I’m not just going to sit back and wait for them to come. I and the rest of my men are going to go! To bring the fight to them! To rescue my sister! For that’s what the People do!”

    A chorus of shouts and cheers answered him.

    He didn’t need to ask who else was with him.

    Cyrus turned slightly to where Haxāmanis stood behind him and smirked.

    Darayava was tired.

    Exhausted more like.

    He and his men had traveled to the edge of the desert then doubled back. They were now to the south of Pasargadae and there was no doubt about it – there was barbarian presence here. They had slogged to the south, where a new coastline met the sea, weighed down by experience and bloodshed and standing on a bloody grassland having just watched the last of their foes tumble – backs shattered by rocks slung through the air.

    He was tired. They were tired.

    It’s time to go back home.

    As they neared they started to realize things had changed.

    In their long absence their home in the valley had shifted out of a temporary footing to a more stable, permanent, one. But it was not just the buildings, plotted out in orderly rows, that caught their attention; it was the fact Pasargadae was empty. It was the middle of the day but while some familiar faces were hustling about others were just gone. From where they stood on the Great Plains, behind a grove, they could see for miles in any direction.

    So, they went.

    The trip back to Pasargadae did not take long. As the plains were flat and open the hunters approached the settlement at a reasonable pace. Silence reigned as the group entered into the city proper.

    “You’re late. For one so glory-hungry it must be a shame to miss the excitement.”

    Darayava would recognize that voice anywhere.

    After looking around to make sure no one else can hear him (well, save his men) Darayava turned to face Elder Ishtu,

    “What do you want, old man?”

    If the Elder was perturbed by the Slinger’s lack of respect he did not show it. In fact, he even chuckled at the man – the soft laughter rising in the air. Darayava squared his shoulders against the elderly man, though the Elder had either appeared out of thin air or had been waiting for them, the giant of a man would not be unnerved.

    The Elder smiled, wrinkled lips stretching out over yellow teeth.

    He definitely wouldn’t be intimidated.

    “Cyrus was just speaking to the People. Gave a rather impressive speech. Rallied several to him and went west.”

    Outside of the fact that he had thought Cyrus was still out exploring…”Why?”

    The man smiled.

    “To rescue my granddaughter, of course.”

    They left the forest and traveled south to a winding river in the icy tundra when Ariya saw a sight that froze her in her place.

    The warriors with their stone-headed hammers was enough to stop her in place, but the sight of those Others, civilians it seemed like due to them being unarmed, truly stopped her. What are they doing here? Ariya wondered as she watched the distant figures approach the edge of the barren lands – where the permafrost dwindled into fresh green grasslands.

    But her thoughts were put on hold as Ateas laid a hand on her shoulder and looked south. She did as well. Ariya looked. She looked to where many of the Pokrovkans were crossing a river.

    A partly frozen over one.

    She sighed.

    At least it was approaching summer so it shouldn’t be too cold, right?

    Cyrus stood in the field of wheat again.

    Where before he and his Spirit-Touched had walked into the shoreline where the lip kissed the sea now they looked further west, beyond the great desert, where the desert sands faded into stark shrublands.

    “Is something wrong?”

    Cyrus didn’t have to even turn around to know it was Haxāmanis.

    “Something just feels…off.”

    He frowned. “Do you want to turn back?”

    “Of course not.” Cyrus instinctively replied, which only made him furrow his brow and rub his chin. “Of course not.” He repeated again. More softly this time – as he gazed out onto the sea3. “We are walking into danger but must go regardless – if only to rescue my sister. Even if they come we must hold our ground here.”

    Silence followed and Cyrus finally turned around. As he knew Haxāmanis stood behind him – the man had crossed his arms and leaned back against a rocky outcropping – one that jutted out from a minor ravine that separated the field from the desert floor above.


    Cyrus twisted his lips in response.

    It could not be called a smile.

    As the group continued south, towards the distant towering peak, Ariya glanced over her shoulder to the figures across the waters.

    A group of slingers, like Darayava, had joined up with them, and these Others stared at them as they got further and further away. She knew it to be irrational but a part of her expected then to attack from this distance – to just chuck the rocks over the waters. Irrational, but she could not help but feel a threat looming over her all the way down.

    Down they went. Down south through a verdant grassland and into yet another forest.

    And the entire time she thought she felt gazes piercing into her back.

    But the moment they entered into the forest that sensation stopped. Perhaps it was only imaginary or perhaps the spirits of the forests were safeguarding her – as was their wont. Once safely inside, Ariya leaned against a trunk and took deep, calming breaths.

    I don’t care if they can see my weakness right now.

    Okay, that wasn’t true.

    Ariya looked up and was startled. They were all staring at her. Ateas, his scouting party and even some of the builders – at least the ones who came willingly. Ateas came forward and, for the first time in her presence, began to speak in a rapid pace in his own native tongue. Ariya, of course, understood none of it.

    But that didn’t stop him from gesturing out of the treeline and stepping back.

    He wanted her to lead the way.

    The way back to Pasargadae.

    Ariya’s face hardened.


    Have you ever seen two people of different, who has no idea what the other is saying, argue with each other? In those early days, before knowledge of our two languages was widespread and communication was possible, it must have been a common sight.

    That argument may have gone on for a while if not for the fact that one time that Ateas gestured out of the forest Ariya caught sight of something that froze her in her tracks.

    Hugging right outside the forest that kissed the giant, unusual mountain was a hill.

    And very familiar figures was cresting that hilltop.

    One in particular.

    Ariya ran.

    Back in the frozen wastes she had run. But this time didn’t compare. Now she flew, leaving even Ateas, with his natural propensity for forests, in her dust. She broke out of the treelines while still sprinting – running so fast she could twist an ankle; but she didn’t care.

    The other group had reached the summit and all wore matching grins to her own.

    The other group. Her group.


    She leaped – tumbling into her brother’s waiting arms. She was back. Ariya laughed. She was back.

    “Welcome back.” He said, because of course he knew.

    Sobs interwove into the laughter.

    She was back.

    Last edited: Mar 25, 2018
  8. BlueFlamingWings

    BlueFlamingWings Chieftain

    Aug 10, 2014
    The reunion didn’t last long.

    Ariya’s confusion won out over her relief. She pulled back from her brother to glance over the assembled Peoples – there was the Spirit-Touched of course, Cyrus’ collection of madmen that willingly follow him into the unknown, but there were others as well. Faces she knew well but was nevertheless left flatfooted to see here.

    Cyrus answered her confusion, “We came to rescue you.”

    But that only lead to more questions, “How did you know?”

    “I told them, shahzadeh.”

    More so than the odd title the thing that truly caught Ariya’s attention was the voice. A man she had never seen before emerged out of the crowd of familiar faces. It would be more disorienting to see him if she had not spent the last several days in the company of strangers, so instead she was merely caught off guard.

    Especially when the man bowed to her.

    “It was my honor to come and rescue you, shahzadeh, and to continue to work as a translator for your People.”

    Ignoring everything else…

    “Why do you keep calling me that?”

    Now it was the man’s turn to be confused. He stole a glance over at Cyrus before turning to face you. “It means ‘of the bloodline of a king’, you are the Great’s sister, are you not?”

    Ariya was left speechless. When she finally found her voice, all she said was “Tha…that’s right,” she fell silent for a beat and added, “I’m going to talk to my brother … Cyrus the Great … for a bit.” She didn’t give the stranger much time to respond before she dragged away her sibling by the scruff of his neck.

    “It wasn’t my idea.” He immediately began the moment the two of them enough away.


    “Well, the newcomer, his name is Behrem by the way, and several others came to scout out Pasargadae for a future raid. There was a … altercation. Many managed to get away but Behrem is one we are keeping. After all, he’s useful.” To punctuate this Cyrus gestured to the nearby forest where the man, Behrem, was being escorted by the Spirit-Touched to meet Ateas and his scouting party. Perhaps, with the translator she can finally make sense of the mess she had been thrown into, but now –

    “If he’s a outsider why is he treating us like he is?”

    “I may have told him the usual story about how I scrounged up the ingredients for the ointment and then on the way over we talked some more. I wasn’t expecting him to start treating me as the ‘king of kings’.”

    “What did you do?”

    “Literally nothing. I just didn’t let him know our Sacred Woods are literally a comple miles away from Pasargadae. He thinks I’m some sort of adventurer and, well…”


    He gave a smirk.

    “And a God-King.”

    We are iyruk.

    …or rather we were.

    Ateas did not fool himself into thinking he was still one of the People. But, nevertheless, he still retained the skills he once had among them. As they were iyruks, nomads, ones who ventured through the sacred lands, the herros, before settling for the night, he well and truly knew how to get the lay of the land and choose the ideal spot to set up camp.

    He knew of the hills beyond the forests.

    He knew the hill she had bolted to.

    Of course, Ateas still did not know much about the woman who suddenly appeared at the foot of the Great Ka. She was tall, thin and boney even. All harsh angles. She had this presence about her, like she could say things without saying them. During their time together, she seemed to just get things.

    While he still didn’t know her people’s names.

    But when Ateas chased after, heading to the edge of the forest, and saw those gathered unfamiliar faces he knew.

    He knew, and he smiled to see them.

    At last.

    When the translator met up with Ateas the full story came out.

    He wanted his people to return to being nomads. Apparently, the leader of their people, a warrior-woman by the name of Tomyris, had decided to settle down and form those cities she had seen before. He, and the ones who came with him, wanted a return to their historic roots.

    As simple as that.

    It could have been solved with two minutes of talking.

    Ariya wanted to laugh out loud when she heard.

    But she remained silent as they trudged through the wilderness Cyrus and Ateas were talking it out with Behrem acting as their interpreter. Cyrus and his Spirit-Touched and Ateas and his scouts moved together as one big group. The civilians from Pasargadae and the laborers from Pokrovka trailed behind them. And her, in the very back, couldn’t hope to overhear anything.

    But she knew something had changed when the group stopped.

    They stopped in the shade of the giant, unique mountain and where a spot of blue, the waters sparkling in the desert heat could be seen in the distance. Yes, the massive group can settle here for the next few nights before moving on.

    Yes, this will do.

    It happened as they were setting up camp.

    Cyrus was the one to spot him, of course.

    Darayava appeared out of the sands of the desert, on the other side of the oasis. Caked in grains of sand and grime, the giant nonetheless gave a big, boisterous grin at the sight of them. Cyrus himself couldn’t believe his eyes for a variety of reasons. He nodded at Haxāmanis to let him know to take over then headed out into the bīābān.

    The two met up halfway. He did not fully come over to Cyrus’ side and Cyrus did not fully cross over either. They met at the water’s edge where the oasis reached the sands. “I thought you were scouting to the west.”

    He snorted, “And hello to you too. I doubled back then headed back home. Just in time for the … the Elder to direct me here. Where’s the glory at?”

    “There hasn’t been any yet. In time. In time.”

    Meanwhile, back at the camp, Ateas was looking at Haxāmanis as the man directed some laborers to set up a perimeter of wooden stakes around the camp. But his gaze did not linger on the man long, he turned his attention to Behrem and barked out some words. The translator himself slowly turned to Haxāmanis – his voice soft and meek.

    He clearly hadn’t forgotten the man’s initial “greeting”.

    “He asks, ‘Am I a prisoner?’”

    From the tone Haxāmanis it wasn’t a question, he also guessed that the original was much more…heated.

    But still, he kept an even tone in his response. “Of course not,” And indeed, the man’s hands were not bound though he still remained within the circle of his companions, outside of the borders of the new settlement, as if to draw a line between the two groups. “Still where would he go?”

    That was one of the first things Cyrus clarified. The People weren’t any more nomadic, or were iyruks as he put it, than these Scythians. If anything, these Other people may be more nomadic than they had ever been. The man had gambled and lost.

    After it was translated for him, Ateas snapped out more words. These ones were definitely confrontational, and so Behrem hesitated to relay them but went on regardless. “He says ‘If that’s the case let us scout for your people. We know this land well. We can go to the south through the’, uh…”

    “The bīābān.”

    “I see. Never heard that word before.”

    That’s because it’s new.

    “Well, yes ‘through the desert. Just give us the chance.’”

    “You do realize that Cyrus needs to have the final say on that, right?”

    Behrem did not translate that one, but rather glanced to the side and fell silent. The giant man knew better than to push. When it got down to it Behrem would support his new “God-King”. Haxāmanis glanced over at the group before looking within the camp to familiar faces.

    “You three,” he pointed to three individuals who were not of the Spirit-Touched but of the People. “You will go with them.”

    “Sir!” Behrem began but Haxāmanis cut him off.

    “I speak with Cyrus’ full authority.” His glance over his shoulder at the man froze him in his spot. “Never forget that.” He looked back at the three. “Go.”

    One of the Pokrovkan laborers moved to join them, but Haxāmanis stopped him. The man was as short as he was tall, and as such he didn’t expect any trouble in holding the man back.

    He was wrong.

    Haxāmanis had barely laid a hand on the man’s shoulder when it s suddenly pried off.

    Before it could turn anymore violent from the other side of the wall Ateas spoke up. Whatever he said was enough to stop the man in place where brute force had not. Confusion flashed on his face then anger, he turned on his heel and started to walk away.

    He honestly had no idea what just happened.

    But it had happened.

    And now Ateas and his men were gone.

  9. BlueFlamingWings

    BlueFlamingWings Chieftain

    Aug 10, 2014
    A heads up for those following this story:

    Due to issues I was having with my old PC I actually now have a brand new laptop. However, this also means none of my old save files are on this one. I was thinking of just emailing myself the save file from my old laptop to this new one (still have access to it). But if anyone has any better idea I would love to hear it.
  10. Ozbenno

    Ozbenno Fly Fly Away Moderator Hall of Fame Staff

    Apr 5, 2006
    Sydney, Australia
    You should just be able to copy the save onto the new laptop in the saves folder (using USB, email etc). The only issue would be if you were running an older version of Civ on the old PC and the save isn't compatible with the newer version.
    BlueFlamingWings likes this.
  11. BlueFlamingWings

    BlueFlamingWings Chieftain

    Aug 10, 2014
    It should be compatible. My old laptop is currently in the shop. Once I get it back I should be able to continue the story.
  12. BlueFlamingWings

    BlueFlamingWings Chieftain

    Aug 10, 2014
    Bad news everyone. The guy at the shop said he couldn't get it to work/power up (my old laptop couldn't hold a charge). So I guess we're going to need to start over.

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